With so many fabulous tapas, how did we choose which ones to recommend for a holiday party? First, the tapas had to have a "wow" factor – very colorful, or a special flavor. Second, they had to be easy to eat at a cocktail party – not a drippy, hard-to-hold mess. Last, most if not all the preparation could be done ahead of time, so you'll have more time with your guests.
We recommend staged servings. Set out 2 tapas every 30 minutes, essential if you are planning an open-house or drop-in style affair. Below each item on the list is a brief description, as well as serving suggestions for a larger party.
Serrano ham is warmed on a piece of toast, which has been rubbed with tomato to keep it a bit moist. We recommend doubling this recipe and making "mini-alpargatas" if you are hosting a large party. That way you can prepare a couple dozen slices of baguette.
Salty and full of flavor, Serrano ham makes an excellent contrast with the sweet, juicy Honeydew melon. This tapa takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare and requires no cooking. The bright green melon contrasts nicely with the deep red ham, making a festive appearance.
The classic Spanish Omelet makes the perfect party food. After making the omelet and allowing it to cool, cut into 2-inch squares and serve atop small slices of baguette. Keep the tortilla in place using a toothpick.
One of the most common tapas of Spain, gambas al ajillo is quick, easy and FULL of garlic flavor. We recommend using smaller, peeled shrimp for a party, and serving in small clay pots or plates with lots of toothpicks and slices of baguettes for dipping in the sauce.
A typical dish from Granada and Malaga areas of Andalucia, it is quick, easy and inexpensive to prepare. Slice, flour and fry eggplant rounds. Drizzle molasses (miel de cana) or flavored honey over the top and serve.
Smoked Spanish paprika has an intense and unique flavor that is a basic ingredient in many Spanish dishes. This tapa combines roasted garlic, dry sherry and paprika with baked Brie cheese to make a soft, rich appetizer. Allow cheese to cool, then slice carefully and serve atop slices of a rustic baguette.